Covid-19: Personal statement
(updated as of 24 March)
This document sets out what I will personally do to protect the health and welfare of the bereaved people I serve, fellow professionals, my own family and friends, wider society, and myself against the threat of the Covid-19 virus.
It is our collective duty to support the NHS and society by helping to flatten the curve of the spread of Covid-19, as well as ensuring we take proportionate measures to protect ourselves.
This statement has been drawn up in line with Government, Humanists UK, and the funeral industry’s guidelines.
- I am currently well, as are members of my household, and I will take all sensible precautions to help avoid catching the virus. I will update clients if anything changes in my personal health status relating to Covid-19
- My intention is to continue to meet my obligations vis-a vis ceremonies in line with current Government guidance as long as I do not put clients or myself at undue risk.
- If I should have to self-isolate and not be able to take a ceremony, I will ask my regional coordinator to put out a request for a stand-in celebrant, giving them as much notice as possible. If the regional coordinator is unable to help then Humanists UK can do so in an emergency, but please bear in mind that they are working under pressure.
- I will do everything possible to provide a fully worked up ceremony for someone else to deliver, if necessary. I will keep a copy on the cloud as well as on my hard drive in accordance with good data protection principles (see GDPR policy).
- I will only charge for a fair proportion of my fee, depending on how far developed the ceremony is at the point of handover (please see policy on cancellations). I will provide a written record of what has been agreed.
- I will keep in touch with my colleagues and share any relevant information about local venues – this might include closures, or population restricting measures.
- I will constantly keep this policy under review as guidelines change.
I will maintain personal hygiene by:
- Washing and drying my hands frequently as advised, including before and after a ceremony. If this is not possible, I will use alcohol gel (subject to availability). This is the best way to minimise the chance of spreading the virus. I also encourage all funeral attendees to do the same.
- Using tissues to restrict the spread of any droplets from coughs or sneezes and dispose of them appropriately, washing my hands again after disposal.
- Avoiding touching my face where possible.
- Not handing out any printed material, including business literature, keepsake ceremonies, orders of service etc. at the ceremony. If attendees wish to give a eulogy or reading, I ask them to bring their own hard copy with them and to dispose of it accordingly.
- I will, however, email an electronic copy of the ceremony to the key contact, and will be happy to send a printed copy on request, once the restrictions have been lifted.
I will maintain social distancing by:
- Restricting contact with others as much as possible. This means that I will only hold meetings by phone or internet-based channels, e.g., FaceTime, Skype, WhastApp, and will postpone non-urgent meetings to a later date.
- Not shaking hands, hugging or making body contact in any way. I will also maintain the recommended two metre distance where possible.
Everyone understand the significance of being able to say a dignified goodbye to a loved one as part of the natural grieving process. However, it is important to ensure others are not put at risk as a consequence.
The potential for the transmission of the coronavirus at funeral gatherings to the elderly, frail, those in vulnerable groups along with funeral directors and crematorium staff cannot be overlooked. Nor can the fact that many elderly people will be concerned about attending funerals but will feel compelled to go out of a sense of duty.
Latest Government advice (as of 23 March 2020) is that attendance at funerals should be limited to immediate families for at least the next three weeks. Immediate family has been defined as follows: spouse/partner, parents/carers, siblings, children and their partners.
The touching of the coffin is to be limited; families and friends are encouraged to wave or blow a kiss goodbye when leaving the chapel instead. Kissing of the coffin should be avoided.
All donations should be made online where possible.
In addition, individual crematoria/chapels have posted specific guidance on the total permitted number of attendees. Please check their website and/or liaise with your Funeral Director to check on local restrictions.
Other alternatives to a traditional ceremony that families might consider include:
- Use of webcasting from the crematorium (if available)
- Holding an on-line real time ceremony that is recorded
- Pre-recording the ceremony on video and audio for dissemination as desired
- Direct cremation (with no ceremony or attendees) with a memorial ceremony at a later date.
Wherever technology is used I will try to make sure that it does not devalue the experience and that it is still a personalised and befitting ceremony.
As of 23 March, the Government is stopping all social events, including weddings.
Many celebrants are reporting that couples are preferring to postpone their weddings until a later date so that they can celebrate their special day with all of their loved ones in attendance. Celebrants are trying their best to be flexible to accommodate these changes and to make this process as straightforward as possible in what is clearly a stressful time for both themselves and couples they are working with.